Brain Development follows typical patterns in FASD - longitudinal study

December 17, 2013

NeuroDevNet researchers Dr. Christian Beaulieu and Dr. Carmen Rasmussen are featured in a story on profiling their longitudinal study of brain development in children with FASD.

Reporter Rebecca Medel interviewed the two principal investigators about their findings eight years in to a neuroimaging study. Children participating in the study, now in their teen years, continue to show less development of white matter tracks to the frontal area of the brain. “The main thing is that a bunch of these...tracks...were developing at a different rate in the FASD,” Beaulieu says.

The study, "Longitudinal MRI Reveals Altered Trajectory of Brain Development During Childhood and Adolescence in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders," published online in June in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests "that although we think that most of the injury probably happened before birth, it has lifelong implications—well this isn’t lifelong, this is into adolescence," adds Beaulieu. "We’d have to study up to 50 years old to see that. But it has implications of how your brain develops at later time points.”
“We know the frontal lobe is one part of the brain that develops throughout adolescence and early adulthood,” adds Dr Rasmussen. “That’s one of the last parts of the brain to develop and it’s linked with those important decision-making abilities that are very important during times of adolescence as well.”
Beaulieu says it’s wrong, however, to suggest that the brains of children living with FASD are not developing at all.
“We know that the brain is plastic, it can change,” he says, “and one of the things that our paper does show is that FASD kids do show the normal developmental patterns.”

To read Medel's full story, click here